Fall 2018 - The organization of Professor Smoak was kind of difficult to deal with to be honest. He doesn't post the lecture slides online and most of the lecture during class is commentary on the minimal notes put on the slides that he does present, so it was difficult at time trying to figure out what to take notes on and what to ignore. This class is writing-intensive (as it is a Writing II course) including two main papers, weekly reading responses, and an in-class midterm and final. For the weekly reading responses, they're mostly graded on completion and answering the prompt (I got 10/10 on most of them just writing boring responses). The weekly reading itself is another reason I'd dock the class on being disorganized. I didn't really know how the reading pertained to the class. He assigned weekly reading under the schedule but it wasn't mandatory so no one actually did it. As for the in-class tests, the midterm was pretty hard and the final was super easy. His midterm had multiple concepts that weren't listed on the study guide (note: he tests on quotes where you need to know specific words to finish sentences/fill-in-the-blank which were pretty hard, so read the passages he puts on the study guide very carefully). I think he realized that the midterm was harder than he had anticipated, so the final was super easy (I got an 88 on the midterm and a 98 on the final, which was much shorter and a lot easier). For the papers that we had to write, this would probably be my biggest gripe with the class. Professor Smoak and the TA's don't really help that much in writing these papers unless you go out of your way to ask them in office hours to elaborate. During section and lecture, they will tell you what they want to see in the essays, but will hardly give any helpful examples to follow. The prompts for the paper are broad and definitely confused me in the writing process because they had so many facets that I had to narrow down into a single thesis/paper. I eventually went to the TA's office hours to ask for help on this paper and while my writing itself didn't seem that much better/different, I guess it mirrored what HE specifically wanted to see, so I ended up clutching an A.
Winter 2020 - Despite it being widely out of the scope of my major here at UCLA, I think AN N E 12W with Professor Smoak has been my favorite class so far. Smoak gives very engaging lecture that is well-structured, thought-provoking, and pertinent to the course material. I've enjoyed every minute of class. There is a weekly one-page writing assignment, as well as two papers and two tests to make up your grade. The tests are not overly difficult and are structured around what is covered in lecture + the weekly reading. The two larger papers are about interesting topics and Prof. Smoak goes out of his way to assist students with anything in the class. The course also satisfies a GE, Writing II, and the diversity requirement for at least the school of music.
Course: Jerusalem 10W Spring 2011 I have not even finished the quarter with Professor Smoak but I have to say that he is one of the most pragmatic professors I have had. The class becomes extremely simple with his lecture style, he is very transparent of what he expects and does a great job at lecturing main points and not trivial info. I don't know why he has not gotten many more positive reviews but if you have a chance to take his GE Jerusalem 10W you should it is a very straightforward class in which you will actually learn something but not be super pressured.
Spring 2017 - I do not recommend taking this class as a GE. The professor is really nice and helpful but he doesn't podcast his lectures and his lecture slides don't give a lot of information so attendance is mandatory. The tests he gives are incredibly hard and focus on the smallest details of the information learned. He even tests the memorization of the Phoenician alphabet. There is a group project with about 5 people to create a writing system, which was really difficult to do and took a lot of time outside of class. There is a final paper that you have to write about 5 pages long with a ton of requirements regarding sources, the layout, etc. The information was interesting but not enough to take it for a GE.
Winter 2018 - Professor Smoak is a very intelligent and captivating lecturer. I enjoyed his class. There are two reading quizzes, a midterm and final. And a required visit to LACMA which was free and actually interesting. There is also a group project to invent a writing system. Sounds challenging and it is, but with the right group and ideas it can become fun. I’m selling the required textbook for $20. Text me if interested **********.
Spring 2019 - Easy class in general. The tests are okay, you just have to memorize a whole bunch of things like who did this, what is this artifact, when did this happen, etc,. Other than that, the tests are straightforward and easy. Smoak as a lecturer is okay, I thought his material was interesting but I could also see how some people thought it was a snooze fest. He assigns a lot of readings but honestly I didn't read a single one, all you have to do is pay attention in class and you should get an easy A.
Professor Smoak is a genuinely cool, down-to-earth man who is really fascinated by the material in his lectures. I thought that the class was more than fair and actually interested me. Often times, we had guest lecturers who were his teaching assistants. They always had interesting and valuable information to share about their areas of study. I would recommend this class. It is pretty darn easy if you stay on top of your work. I am selling "The Study of Writing" of any one is interested. Contact: S*************
Spring 2017 - For some reason, people like Professor Smoak. I found the content boring and stuff and I guess Professor Smoak was nice-ish. BUT you should know about this annoying thing he did: he didn't post slides for some lectures. Our TA said it was because some people skipped. I never skipped but obviously it still affected me. I mean. It would be nice to tell us before you start lecture that you don't plan to post the slides, and maybe keep them up for long enough for us to copy everything. A review under Asian M20 complained about the workload, but I kind of disagree. The work is a lot, but it isn't difficult so it ends up taking just a little of your time. I literally finished the final paper in a day (with several breaks). The group project has the potential to be fun, unless you strongly dislike your group members (like I did). But you should try your best because you WANT to win that competition. Also, if any TA or the professor tells you that you don't need to memorize dates, don't fall for that. Learn all your dates.
CLASS AN N EA 10W: Lectures go into depth. Really made me think about religion and why Jerusalem is so important to religions. Liked the class. Class consisted of two 8 page papers a midterm and a final. The midterm is a bit of everything, essays, multiple choice, and dates. Overall, he's a wonderful professor and well his class fulfills your writing 2 requirement. So go for it. Good luck! If you need the books e-mail me. *************